A public meeting was held on Thursday 27th July at Loftus Town Hall, where Redcar and Cleveland Brough Council Officers from the Place Development and Investment Team took question from the community.
We’ve put together the answers to the questions asked and those taken away and hope that this lets you know exactly where we are in terms of delivering on the Loftus Masterplan.
1. Ideas for events fairs – sheep/wool fair, produce show, Loftus in Bloom, Summer fair, all deferred by COVID all back next year?
All noted and the council and Regeneration Group are actively having discussions with multiple community groups and partners to consider how an events programme can be taken forward. Both the upgraded Coronation Park and Market Place are having designated power installed for future events and/or markets.
2. Is the Christmas light turn on going to happen as last year? One of the busiest times of the year for local businesses in the Market Place.
Yes, and Officers are liaising with the Town Council and Light up Loftus to support them with this.
3. What has happened to the old post box?
Despite challenge from RCBC officers, Royal Mail decommissioned the old post-box at Stonemasons Bank. The council fought to retain the post-box and intend to place it within the URC albeit it won’t be active. Other post-boxes on West Road and in the Market Place are to remain.
4. Most of the work taking place is on council owned buildings – why? We wanted a tidy high street, not the destruction of historical features of our town.
The Council acquired key historic buildings that were in a derelict state, stepping in where the private market had failed to do so. We have successfully restored the Old Bank, and will shortly be restoring the Former United Reformed Church. As part of the Duncan Place refurbishment, this historic building has been updated also. Unfortunately,, we were unable to save the Arlington Chapel due to its dilapidated and dangerous state. Commercial Grants are to be made available to businesses and property owners to uplift the appearance of the shop fronts on Zetland/West Road.
5. How were the Regen committee chosen? Was there a public vote?
The Regen Group is made up of volunteers from the community, who have given up their time since 2007 to help shape and direct change to Loftus Town Centre. The group has cross-sectional representation from across the community, including;
6. Is the money ringfenced?
The money is ringfenced and approved at RCBC Cabinet.
7. Is it true 2 Loftus councillors received £12,000 grants. If so, is that money from the Regeneration Fund?
Only Businesses can receive Business Grants. These applications all go through exactly the same robust audit and governance procedures. Businesses are also expected to cover all costs upfront, and retrospectively claim back the grant, after evidencing the eligible spend following the strict governance procedures.
8. Lights near Town Hall – raised and slippery. Uneven broken slabs.
Officers are not happy with the current finish and have instructed remedial works to the joints around the uplighters. This should be completed shortly. Despite the lights being external grade and compliant for use withing footways, additional anti slip and been adhered to the lighting units.
9. Is the Money running out.
10. Electric parking spaces – why the yellow boxes taking away parking places?
The 22Kw Electric Vehicle (EV) chargers installed will charge a vehicle in a few hours. They have been supplied under the Government ORCS Scheme (On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme guidance for local authorities – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)), administrated by Tees Valley Combined Authority and are intended to primarily offer charging to people without off street parking. However, these are available to all, and visitors will be able to charge when visiting the area. The Council have deliberately ensured that all EV Bays, wherever possible, are the same size as disabled bays to make the facility accessible to all. We appreciate this has resulted in loss of parking provision with North Road car park. However, these chargers put the town at the forefront of EV charging in the east of the Borough will encourage visitors to the area.
11. Can some encouragement be given to do up the flats above the Dentist – it’s a disgrace!
Whist this property is outside of the red line boundary for the Zetland Road Heritage Grant, the council will liaise with the property owner and signposts landlords to external funding pot available to encourage investment in keeping with the Conservation Area status.
1.Compensation for businesses for lost revenue and footfall. People are avoiding Loftus, so we are suffering.
The purpose of all of the projects underway is to support Loftus’ transformation into a modern market town which generates jobs, increases pride, and improves the quality of life for its community, as well as offering exciting facilities and attractions for visitors. Through the projects, we are celebrating the town’s unique heritage and landscape that will encourage independent retail growth and become a vibrant place for people of all ages. We appreciate that the disruptions in getting to this point is hard for businesses with the majority of this disruption stemming from the delayed Northern Powergrid (NPG) works. We approached NPG but unfortunately they do not provide compensatory grants to businesses. RCBC will work with the business community, and signpost them to both the Zetland Rd Heritage scheme and any other external funding grants that come available, to support their development.
2.Is compensation being considered for businesses who have failed to stay open due to the working conditions. Two have failed in the marketplace.
The Council are aware of the closure of the Coffee Parlour in the Market Place. Unfortunately, there is no compensation available from the Council to existing businesses. The aim of the masterplan, when complete, is to encourage footfall and increase visitors spend on the high street. We do appreciate there is some short to medium term pain until we get to a point where all these benefits can be realised and this applies additional pressure to businesses in an already difficult economic time, following Covid, worldwide market pressures, and inflation and the cost-of-living crisis. RCBC will work with the business community, and signpost them external funding grants that come available, to support their development and sustainability.
3.Are there any plans to compensate businesses for money lost?
4.Timeframe of total completion – are we on track financially without revising plans?
Yes, we are on track to complete the programme within the funding envelopes. Updates on project progress and completion dates can be found at; loftusmasterplan.co.uk/project-overview/
5.How much has it cost so far? Is there enough money to complete everything that is promised?
To date, all funders are satisfied with progress made, the current programme for delivery and the spend made to date. We are managing the funding profile to ensure all schemes identified can be achieved. In total, over £11million has been allocated to delivering the Loftus Masterplan from various funding sources, as detailed below;
|Loftus Future High Streets||£ 5,833,550.00|
|Tees Valley Combined Authority (TVCA) Indigenous Growth Fund (IGF)||£ 4,856,775.00|
|TVCA Welcome 2 Redcar and Cleveland Grant||£ 150,000.00|
|Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council||£ 985,000.00|
|Total||£ 11.8 million|
The spend to date totals £6.64 Million with the remainder committed.
5. Why need all the projects start at the same time. Surely a programme could have been worked out staggering?
These externally funded projects come with a deadline to have the funding spent. Many of which need to be completed by 31st March 2024. This means we are unfortunately unable to stagger the projects over a longer period. The original programme did have a more staggered rollout. Unfortunately, various factors have been experienced across the programme that has condensed the construction of multiple projects where they are now overlapped. This is due to a number of factors, such as responding to increased constructions cost as a result of inflation, the; Arlington Chapel needing immediate action due to dangerous structure, and the delays encountered by Northern Power Grid works.
1.Grey and buff sandstone – what about chips and wonkiness
There are a number of defect flags that have been put on a snagging list, such as broken corners and inconsistent joints. These will be corrected before completion of the full project
2. Who decided to use slippery white stone that looks awful in the marketplace with dangerously steep kerbs?
Natural Yorkstone (from a Yorkshire quarry) has been selected as it is a premium heritage material in keeping with the conservation status. It complies with all relevant BS/EN standards including slip-resistance tests. The kerb heights conform with expected heights for kerb faces, however the project is not currently finished, and a final surface layer is to be applied over all the parking bays, which will reduced the kerb heights at present.
3.Why is paving replacement only being started and finished where it is. When paving further down is all cracked?
The budget does not allow us to go beyond its current position and is therefore concentrated around the heart of the Market Place.
4. What is the timescale for finishing the work in the marketplace?
It is anticipated that the work will be completed by mid-October 2023.
5.Masterplan states York stone flag stones will be used. This is not the case. Why have very smooth concrete slabs been used? Was slippery when wet. What will it be like in winter for ice?
See Q2. We can confirm the flags are natural Yorkstone, sourced from the UK. It complies with all relevant BS/EN standards including slip-resistance tests. Lighting
6. Uplighting of buildings in the marketplace. – we are on the edge of an in international dark sky park (NYMP) why has this not been taken into consideration?
We consulted with the Nork York Moors National Park ahead of install at scheme development, as this was something we too were acutely aware of and they provided support on preferred LUX levels and fed into the design process.
1.Who is actually running this on a day-to-day basis (i.e., all works – marketplace, streetworks, Coronation Park). Who is siting temporary bus stops etc?
The Place Investment Team at RCBC are coordinating the programme of work, but many internal and external partners, stakeholders, statutory suppliers etc. feed into this. These projects have been externally funded with deadline spend conditions, which means we are unfortunately unable to stagger the projects over a longer period. Whilst we have tried to coordinate all construction works in the most efficient manner possible, no getting away from NPG programme overrun having a huge issue on our wider delivery. The traffic Management, including temporary bus stop locations is being managed by a qualified provider, which conforms with guidance set out under the Traffic Management Act 2004, in consultation with partners such as Arriva. Bus stops will defer back to original positions as soon as its safe to do so.
2. What can be done about people jumping red lights – can a camera be installed? As happens every day and could cause an accident.
Unfortunately, cameras cannot be added to temporary traffic lights as a means to enforce against red light jumpers. Jumping of red lights is a significant cause for delays, at is knocks the lights out of sequence. The traffic management has recently reduced but there will be requirement for it to come back over various spells of the remining programme, however it will not be to the scale as previously experienced. We’ve spoken with businesses and asked those who attended the recent public meeting of their thoughts and the vast majority of people would like us to press on with works to ensure they’re completed as soon as practically possible.
3. When will someone get a grip of the traffic lights throughout Loftus. Delay of 15 – 25 minutes recorded (Multiple Questions)
See Q2. We are aware of the frustration at the quantity of temporary traffic lights along the length of the High Street. These are required to undertake the key infrastructure and building works in a safe manner. We anticipate that the major works requiring these temporary traffic lights will be concluded in the weeks ahead and we ask for your patience over this period. Upon completion of these works, Loftus will have been transformed into a modern market town which generates jobs, increases pride, and improves the quality of life for its community, as well as offering exciting facilities and attractions for visitors. Through the projects, we are celebrating the town’s unique heritage and landscape that will encourage independent retail growth and become a vibrant place for people of all ages.
4. Lots of barriers, lots of cones, where are the workers?
See Q3. We’re aware of the frustration. We speak frequently with NPG and pressure is being applied to them through our Streetworks Team. However, delivery and resourcing of the NPG works is outside of the control of the Council. Delivery of the Market Place works, which is being undertaken directly by RCBC, has taken longer than anticipated. Steps have been taken to further resource this project, and as we move in phase 3 and 4 (Co-op side), progress will be quicker than it has been previously. This will include more operative on site, working long hours and potentially working some weekend.
5. Why can we not have more than one construction team on to get these roadworks done faster?
6. Golden Lion Bus stop – why has the old shelter been re-fitted, wasn’t it going to be replaced?
The structure is satisfactory structural condition, and is therefore to be refurbished, which will include removing the mesh manels and replacing with toughened Perspex to match the opposite shelter. This is a more cost effective and sustainability friendly solution.
7. Please can temporary bus stop have a litter bin and warning signs. These are often outside houses.
A litter bin has been supplied.
8. When it permits, can the bus stops be moved outside the town hall?
This will be reviewed in due course.
9. When will holes in the road be filled in?
The road surfaces at the Market Place and Zetland Rd are to be replaced through this regeneration programme through Autumn / Winter. However, all other roads are not part of the scope, as they fall under revenue works, which this funding cannot finance, being capital funding only.
10. Why, when these jobs were planned, the man hours required not taken into consideration – the excuse of ‘no overtime’ is not acceptable.
At the programme planning stage, projects timescales are determined with sites being adequately resourced. Unfortunately, during construction of the Market Place project, the council have not been able to resource the scheme as originally intended, and therefore measure have been put in place to address this. It is not always possible to resource sites during the weekends. Additional pressures have been added to the timescales due to other influences, such as, ground issues.
11. When will Northern Power Grid finish?
Northern Powergrid will fully complete their work in in September. Overhead lines and telegraph poles on West Rd are still to be removed, which will be done under give way temporary traffic management early September. All other works they need to undertake do not require traffic management.
12. How long will the roadworks last?
As described above, Northern Powergrid works finish September 23, and the Market Place works will complete October 2023 Works to improve the streetscape at Zetland Rd and Station Rd junction will commence in Autumn 23, which will require the traffic management to return however it will not be to the scale as previously experienced. This will be managed closely with RCBC using external contractors. It is anticipated that these works will be concluded by January 2024. We’ve spoken with businesses and asked those who attended the recent public meeting of their thoughts, and the vast majority of people would like us to press on with works to ensure they’re completed as soon as practically possible.
13. Was NPG paid up front? Are there contracts between contractors and is there penalties?
Yes. The majority of their payment is made up front. This is their policy and happens across the country. If this didn’t happen, they wouldn’t have carried out the work. There is a cost share for such infrastructure works, where NPG cover 18% of the costs under as the New Roads and Street Works Act (Sharing of Costs of Works) Regulations 1991. As this is not a traditional Construction Contract, but is a direct order to NPG, RCBC cannot enforce any penalties for overruns.
14. Why 20mph through Loftus, when it is the only town with 20 all the way through? Near Handale School, yes.
Following observations about the speed of passing traffic on Loftus High Street, new speed control measures were introduced. This followed feedback from the public consultation in June 2020 and a Traffic Regulation Order Consultation in August 2022. The introduction of 20mph zone through the High Street is to increase safety and improve the visitor experience.
15. West Road back street – speed -people speeding along to bypass TM, can police spot check?
This will be raised with the police during the next phase of works.
16. Drivers are using the West Road backstreet to avoid the roadworks. Cars are going much faster than 20mph, kids play there – it’s a disaster waiting to happen.
17. I hope that there is going to be plenty of drop kerbs than Loftus has now please.
Accessibility & Connectivity improvements is a key aspiration of the projects, to enhance the experience for the pedestrians using the High Street. A new crossing is to be introduced near Stonemasons Bank, along with new checked/flush kerbs to side/back street crossings, along with all new surfacing around Zetland Road.
18. Why does your website say that the powerlines will be removed weekend of 5/6th August, will the road be closed, or will there be rolling roadworks?
Overhead powerlines were removed to Zetland road on 4/5th August, with replacement columns erected. West Rod overhead lines and poles will be removed early September with replacement columns erected in tandem.
19. Why are there no contractors working weekends? (Multiple)
20. Is there a reason no weekend work is done?
21. Why was the design manuals for roads and bridges not considered?
All road projects follow the adopted Tees Valley Design Guide for Highways along with industry standard design specification. Construction Design and Management – a set of health and safety regulations that apply specifically to construction projects – have been applied to all schemes.
1.Can we have an update on the Arlington Chapel site?
The former Arlington Chapel and School House have been demolished. The Council did this under the Building Act 1984, Section 78 Dangerous building—emergency measures. The next stage of works is for permanent retaining buttresses to be built against neighbouring gable walls. These could not be fully designed until the site was cleared and trail holes at the footing of the walls undertaken. We are currently trying to source suitably experienced sub-contractors to complete this complex work and will return to site to complete this phase as soon as practically possible. The end use of the site has not been determined; but will be subject to an options assessment in the future including marketing of the site to gauge market interest. The community will be consulted of the outcome of this study in due course, ahead of any future planning application.
2. Why do you say that the Arlington Chapel is completed? When in fact it isn’t because of the legal action by Samuel Smiths. Because they say you demolished a listed building.
Arlington Chapel is not a Listed building. The Council demolished the Chapel and School House under the Building Act having engaged two independent assessments which advised we should act quickly to remove the Health and Safety concerns, and this was carried out between December 22 to March 23. Samuel Smith Old Brewery (Tadcaster) objected to the Council demolishing the buildings and took us to Court. An injunction was requested by Samuel Smith’s to stop us demolishing but the Court agreed with our position and found that the building was dangerous, and that immediate demolition was the only way to remove the danger. Despite this, Samuel Smith’s progressed with proceedings, arguing we should have demolished with Planning Permission in place. The Council acted urgently under Section 78 Dangerous Building due to the danger to life and property and therefore did not have time to seek Planning Approval. The High court ruled that although the Council clearly has a responsibility to protect the public and were right to progress with the demolition, we should have also submitted a planning application too. The case has now concluded. The demolition works on the site are not yet fully complete. The next stage of works is for permanent retaining buttresses to be built against neighbouring gable walls, as described above. The end use of the site has not been determined; but will be subject to an options assessment in the future including marketing of the site to gauge market interest. The community will be consulted of the outcome of this study in due course, ahead of any future planning application.
1.What’s happening with all of the old stone from Market Place and Arlington Chapel? (Multiple Questions)
The stone and paving are being securely stockpiled around Council compounds, for reuse within wider works around Loftus where practical and feasible. Stone is required for the new works planned at Temperance Square, such as retaining walls and landscaping. Loftus Community Woodland project also requires use of the stone.
1. How many hubs do we need? Folk in Loftus don’t support anything as it is!
The Employment Growth Team will be moving into the new building once complete. They were previously based in Skinningrove but unfortunately the space was not suitable. The new hub will be purpose built and will work with local people and those further out in East Cleveland to help with employment prospects and training. It will work closely with the neighbouring Job Centre next door.
2. Timescale to be completed?
The demolition is on site and will be complete by early September. We need to carry out some site investigations where the buildings stood. We will have a main contractor onsite by the autumn.
3. Have you ownership of all the land?
There is a strip of unregistered land within the site boundary. As majority landowner on all sides, the Council has sent an adverse possession application sent into Land Registry to formalise this. The Council are confident that we either have ownership, can claim ownership or have control of it by virtue of it being adopted highway for the whole site.
4. Why were the plans to site the fitness centre changed from Temperance Square to Duncan Place?
We applied for £8.5 million Future High Street Funding which included the fitness centre. However, we received £5.8 million, meaning that we had to re-scope some of the projects in the original plans.
1. Library car park – heard plans unsuitable and lack landscaping – promised a tree lined car park.
Plans have been designed by qualified Consultant Engineers. Traffic analysis and swept path analysis have all inputted into the design. Landscaping involves 5 new large semi-mature trees , a bench area, and new fencing and walls to screen the car park where appropriate. The plans are currently going through the planning process.
2. Why couldn’t the current library building be used as the training centre?
The old library building is carbon inefficient and costly to run operationally and would have require significant investment to prolong its use as a community facility. The new library has been integrated into “Duncan Place” as a modern library setting in the new extension of that building. The Loftus Masterplan that was supported through public consultation phases identified the need for visitor parking on the old library building site and is ideally situated between the retail centres in Loftus.
3. Access for residents from Hall Grounds/Wood View – once car park is built how do residents gain access to their residences and visitors to the new car park?
Hall Ground Road and Water Lane will be kept open during the demolition and building phases. The footpath adjacent to the building will be closed so pedestrians will be required to use Water Lane in periods.
1. Why when Aspinal Verdi in their report on the Cons church stated that the Cons had no redeeming features (save the tower), and the rest of the building should and could be removed (leaving a free-standing spire). It has been considered commercial units, cultural centre and now artists’ studios @ £10,000 rental. What next, please advise?
Where we can we try to re-use existing buildings, particularly those that have meaning to the Loftus community, regardless of significant heritage value. The church was marketed, and the council was approached by a group of artists who were interested in leasing the whole building. We have worked closely with the group who are now known as Loftus Studios. They have agreed terms with the council that work for both parties. The figures refenced above are not accurate.
1. Eyesores top and bottom of Zetland Road – what’s the solution? (Multiple Questions)
Commercial Grants are to be made available to businesses and property owners to uplift the appearance of the shop fronts on Zetland/West Road. More information can be found at; loftusmasterplan.co.uk/project/zetland-road-townscape/
1. What happened to the bank/Post Office that was going in marketplace?
Despite best effort, the Council were unable to secure a bank, community bank or Post Office within the old bank. There was interest from a Community Bank, but following Covid, this interest was withdrawn.
2. Why is no business rates registered to the bank conversion why has it all been let with no EPC’s.
The Council paid business rate for the property whilst it was vacant. These are now paid for by the businesses located there. Energy Performance Certificates are in place for the building.
3. Why were construction design and management regulations for Highways and the old bank not originally (and still) not taken place?
Construction Design and Management is a set of health and safety regulations that apply specifically to construction projects. RCBC have applied CDM to all schemes delivered within the masterplan, including the appointment of suitably qualified external Principal Designers.
1. New steps and access to Duncan Place (multiple Questions);
There will be a double bank of stone steps from the high street to Duncan Place when the Coronation Park works are completed in the early new year. People with physical disabilities will be able to be dropped off outside Duncan Place or park in the designated bays outside (to what was the entrance but will become the rear of the building once completed). People will also be able to park in the new 17 bay car park currently getting built in Coronation Park and walk over a new boulevard into the new opened up entrances of Duncan Place. This will become the new main entrance for most people. This boulevard is level access from the new car park to the tower entrance at Duncan Place. New seating is to be installed outside Duncan Place at the top of the steps and throughout the redeveloped Coronation Park.
2. Parking in Duncan Place – not enough to satisfy the needs for the new buildings.
As per the above answer a 17-bay car park and minibus drop off point is being built currently in the redeveloped Coronation Park which will be the main access point for Duncan Place. Staff parking and bays for people with disabilities is provided in the original car park for the facility. A 30-bay new car park is also getting built on the old library site and will be ready in the first half of 2024 and is a short walk away.
3. It has been suggested on social media that the new treehouse feature in Loftus Library is expensive and what’s its purpose?
The new tree house is bespoke built to offer a unique focal point in the junior area of the library where story telling can occur around the seating features that are available for children. It is lit and creative play or quiet reading can take place on and round the feature. It is interactive and we hope it will help draw young people into the library and make it feel a special experience. The local library group were consulted and approved the concept.
1. People used to walk their dogs in the flower park. Will that be possible in the ‘new’ park?
Currently there are no plans to restrict dog walking in the new park. However, it has been requested that people can be courteous of others and how everyone uses the park. The new park will be providing a memorial area plus a powered events space so it will be a multi-functional area with new bins included
2. Seymour Civil Engineers – due to the very short working day, arrival around 10am, departure around 2pm, will these contractors remain preferred contractors?
Seymour’s are on site earlier and later than these times and Council officers are keeping a watch of the contractors on all the schemes. On a Friday most contractors have reduced working hours. Seymour’s are an experienced principal contractor and Council officers are overseeing to ensure they progress and complete the works appropriately.
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